If you're into history you may want to put December 6th, 2012 on your calendar because the way business is handled in the state of Michigan may be forever changed and people on both sides of this issues believe this means a change in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
From the Associated Press -- Hundreds of protesters locked out of the Michigan Capitol have been chanting "let us in" and other slogans up to the House chamber as they stand on the grounds below.
They were rallying Thursday after Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and fellow GOP leaders of the Legislature announced their plans to quickly pass right-to-work legislation limiting union powers.
Many were clad in union hats, coats and vests. They yelled just near a tent set up by the Michigan chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a champion of the legislation.
Teacher Michelle Cook of the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck says the leaders are "trying to erode our collective bargaining rights."
Police temporarily closed the Capitol because of concerns for the safety of people and the building with hundreds more protesters inside.
The definition of Right to Work:
State laws permitted by section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley act that provide in general that employees are not required to join a union as a condition of getting or retaining a job.
Right-to-work laws forbid unions and employers to enter into agreements requiring employees to join a union and pay dues and fees to it in order to get or keep a job. Twenty-one states, mostly in the South and West, have right-to-work laws.
The ability of states to pass right-to-work laws was authorized by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, also known as the labor management relations act. FULL DEFINITION, CLICK HERE>>
The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2011 Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, shows median hourly wages of all 22 Right to Work States (RTW) and all 28 Collective-Bargaining States (CBS) as follows:
Occupation Median wages in RTW states Median wages in CB states Difference
All occupations $15.31/hour $16.89/hour -$1.58/hour (-9.4%)
Middle school teacher $49,306/year $55,863/year -$6557/year (-11.7%)
Computer support specialist $46,306/year $50,641/year -$4335/year (-8.6%)
List of the 22 current 22 right to work states.
WAGES AND SALARY TABLE
Annual Average Wage/Salary Disbursements per Job1, U.S. and States 2006-2011
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
RTW states listed in Bold.
|Dist. of Col.||79,851||78,560||75,910||74,759||72,022||68,636|
Some information from both sides:
The AFL-CIO: (against RTW)
Working Families in States with "Right to Work" Laws Earn Lower Wages
On average, workers in states with "Right to Work" law earn $5,538 a year less than workers in states without these laws.
"Right to Work" States Spend Less on Education
Right-to-Work states spend $2,671 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than free-bargaining states.
"Right to Work" States Have Higher Workplace Fatality Rates
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 52.9% higher in states with Right-to-Work laws.
Who benefits from "Right to Work" Laws?
No one. Some low-wage employers might think that they would benefit from weak unions and low wages, but union members are also consumers. "Right to work" laws undermine the purchasing power of unionized workers. Employees covered by union contracts receive 28 percent more in wages and benefits than workers without unions. For women workers, the union advantage is 34 percent. For African American workers, the union advantage is 29 percent. And for Hispanic workers, the union advantage is a whopping 50 percent. When "right to work" laws weaken unions and drive down wages and benefits, workers have less to spend and the entire economy – particularly small business--suffers.
"Right to Work" and Individual Freedoms
Without a "right to work" law, can a worker be forced to join a union?
No. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that no collective bargaining agreement can require anyone to join a union. Unions and employers may only negotiate contract provisions requiring nonmembers to pay their fair share of the union's costs in representing them.
Is a union required to represent all employees covered by a contract (nonmembers as well as members)?
Yes. Under federal labor law, unions have the duty to fairly represent all workers covered by a contract. That means nonmembers as well as members get the same wages, hours and working conditions established by the contract. Unions must bargain for everyone and enforce the contract terms for everyone in a fair, honest, nondiscriminatory manner. Unions cannot refuse to pay the costs of arbitrating a grievance simply because it involves a nonmember. A union that violates this duty of fair representation can be sued. This duty of fair representation applies whether or not the state has a right to work law.
Does RTW offer any advantages? Well, 28.3 percent of jobs in RTW states are classified as "low-wage occupations," while only 19.5 percent are classified as low-wage in workplace fairness states. It's easier to create third-world level pay and benefits, which some multi-national employers absolutely love. But it's a disaster for workers, their kids, and for America's middle class.
Here are two links to Economic Policy Institute papers dismantling RTW "data" used in Indiana and New Hampshire. While EPI hasn't yet examined this Rio Grande Foundation paper, even the most basic statistical analysis above shows the folly of claiming RTW laws reduce wages and employment.
From the Mackinac Center (Pro- Right to Work org.)
What exactly is a right-to-work law?
"Right-to-Work" is a state law that prohibits employers and unions from requiring an employee to pay dues or fees to a union in order to keep his or her job. Currently, 22 states have right-to-work laws. While right-to-work laws do NOT allow individual workers to negotiate their own contracts, they do protect a worker from having to involuntarily support a union.
I don't know a thing about labor law — where does Right-to-Work fit in?
Labor law provides that whenever at least 50 percent of a workforce supports a union, all employees become represented by a union. The union then negotiates a contract that controls the relationship between the employer and the employees. Unless there is a state right-to-work law in place, these contracts may, and almost without exception do, require that every employee pay either dues or fees to the union or they will be fired — even those employees who oppose the union. In states with a right-to-work law, no employee can be fired for refusing to pay dues or fees to a labor union.
What is a "free rider?"
A so-called "free rider" is the term that unions use to describe a person who is covered by a union contract but does not pay dues or fees to the union for the union's efforts in securing or administering the contract. Unions contend that free riders benefit unfairly because they do not pay for the benefits a union provides.
Aren't free riders a problem?
Not necessarily. The real problem is labor law that leaves employees in a position where they are represented by a union they do not want. A union that provides valuable service in contract negotiating, even in right-to-work states, should have little problem earning the loyalty and dues of a vast majority of employees.
What are Beck Rights?
"Beck Rights" refer to rights declared in a U.S. Supreme Court case, Communications Workers of America v. Beck. Under Beck, an employee should be able to limit his or her payment to the union to his or her share of the costs of representation. The principle behind Beck is that workers should not be forced to pay for union lobbying or political work unrelated to the employer/employee relationship.
Why isn't Beck enough?
Even in exercising Beck rights, an employee is still obligated to pay a union for services that the employee does not want. In addition, Beck rights have proven difficult to secure, as the union controls all the records needed to determine what employees should pay. Getting an accurate accounting often requires lengthy litigation.
Can't workers get rid of a union that's doing a bad job?
That's easier said than done. Once a union is certified, it is difficult for employees to remove it. Decertification elections must wait until a contract expires and because of forced dues and fees, unions have large amounts of funds to fight attempts to remove them. This is one reason why most employees in unionized firms have NEVER actually voted in an election to certify the union that represents them. The union is simply entrenched and therefore has the ability to act in a manner that may be more beneficial to union leaders than to union members. Union officials in right-to-work states know that if they lose touch with their members, those members may simply start withholding dues and fees. This keeps the union more immediately accountable to the workers it represents.
But don't workers benefit from having a union? Shouldn't they be willing to pay for it?
It's not that simple. A union can hurt workers too. When a young worker is laid off or passed over for a promotion because of seniority, does he really benefit from the union contract? An ineffective or unwise union can cost workers dearly. It's naive to assume that all workers come out ahead from union representation. And once you account for that, the whole case against right-to-work basically evaporates.
What has changed that makes right-to-work an issue now?
Michigan is in an economic crisis. Between 2002 and 2010 the state lost 14 percent of its jobs. States with RTW have proven attractive to companies desiring to locate in an area, and Michigan workers could really use the jobs those companies might provide.
What would change at my workplace?
Nothing would change in your workplace immediately. With a right-to-work law, the union still negotiates employee contracts on behalf of all employees and represents them if they have grievances. Over the longer term, you may find that the union is more attentive to your concerns.
What happens to collective bargaining agreements?
Collective bargaining agreements would remain in effect and unchanged. Depending on the effective date of a right-to-work law, you may gain the legal right to cease paying union dues immediately, or that may take effect once your current agreement runs out. Either way the rest of the contract will remain in effect.
What happens if I have a grievance?
Labor law provides that a union certified to represent employees has a duty to fairly represent all employees, regardless of whether they pay fees or dues.
What will happen to my wages?
Right-to-work laws do not affect compensation. Your contract will remain in effect. Over the long term, incomes rise faster in right-to-work states, and cost of living tends to be lower as well, meaning your ability to buy the things you need and want is likely to be higher in a right-to-work state.
What will happen to my benefits?
Right-to-work laws do not affect benefits.
What would happen to safety in the workplace?
Whatever safety rules are in your contract will remain in effect, along with all state, federal and local worker safety laws.